Signs, Awnings, and Graphics over the Right-of-Way

Updated: 10/24/2023

In Seattle, there are three main categories of signs regulated in public areas.

  • The first are signs attached to buildings, poles, or pylons on private property, but overhanging streets and sidewalks.
    • Starting from October 13, 2023, you will no longer need a long-term Public Space Management permit for signs that hang over streets and sidewalks from private property. This includes blade signs, wall signs, marquee signs, under-canopy signs, and graphics on awnings. These signs must follow the rules outlined in Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 15.12 and 23.55, as well as our Director's Rule 05-2023: Signs Projecting over Public Right-of-Way. Please read this Director's Rule for the requirements applicable to sign owners.
    • The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) still requires a Sign, Awning, and Billboard Permit for installing and changing signs on private property. This applies to signs fully on private property and those that hang over streets, sidewalks, and other public spaces.
  • The second type of signs are those that are installed directly in the right-of-way, like ground or monument signs.
    • To have these signs, you need a long-term Public Space Management permit that you must renew annually. The fees for ground and monument signs include initial issuance fees, annual renewal and occupancy fees, and, if necessary, inspection fees.
    • We discourage installing new ground and monument signs, but we do allow long-term permits for existing ones. If you think a new ground or monument sign is necessary, please request a coaching appointment with one of our reviewers before submitting an application.
  • The third type are portable signs, like A-frames or sandwich boards, that are temporarily placed on the surface of the right-of-way.
    • You don't need a permit for these portable signs. However, they must follow our placement standards. The standards are listed below.


Awnings that extend over the street, sidewalk, or other public space only require a Public Space long-term permit if they do not qualify as overhead weather protection. All awnings require a Construction Use in the Right-of-Way permit and an Awning Permit from SDCI to install.

To qualify as overhead weather protection, the awning must meet the following criteria: 

  • Between 8 and 15 feet of vertical clearance, measured from sidewalk to lowest point of the awning (including any accessory elements like signage or lighting)  
  • Made of material that provides protection from the rain  
  • Not closer than 3 feet from the curb face 
  • Protrudes at least 3 feet from the building face

Placement of Portable Signs in the Right-of-Way Standards

Portable signs may be allowed in the right-of-way if they meet all of our standards listed below:

  • Limit one portable sign per business location
    • Exception: If a business location has an entrance on a second street frontage, e.g. around the corner, a second sign is allowed near that second entrance
  • The portable sign shall be placed:
    • within the frontage of your business
    • next to a building entrance or directly across from an entrance
    • in line with other street amenities (street trees, light poles, parking meters, bike racks, etc.)
  • The portable sign shall:
    • be a minimum of 2 feet high and a maximum of 4 feet high and 30" wide
    • leave a minimum of 5 feet of clear pedestrian pathway (6 feet in the downtown core)
  • The portable sign shall not:
    • Be placed on any corner
    • Obstruct pedestrian mobility
    • Create a hazard (e.g. a tripping hazard)
    • Interfere with traffic visibility
    • Impair access to a public sidewalk, street, driveway, traffic control sign, bus stop, fire hydrant or other type of street amenity
    • Be chained to light poles, trees or other amenities.
    • Include banners, streamers, pennants, flags, wind-animated objects, balloons, or similar movable objects


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Transportation

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.